Skills building

A non-creative obligation took a lot of my time through November. I decided to use what making time there was on focused building of specific skills.

Hélène Jeanclaude – Madras cotton technique

Hélène has shared quite a few videos on youtube, plus she has some PDFs of specific techniques for sale. One effect I really like is her “madras cotton”. Straight to results, used in a bangle of hollow beads.

Dan Cormier – Relief Beyond Belief

Dan’s on-line book Relief Beyond Belief is a detailed presentation on silhouette dieforming, including bead design, construction, and finishing. My immediate goal was the ability to create my own forms, rather than using existing bowls etc to support clay in forming and baking. For that I focused on the earlier sections of the course. The initial experiment used one of Dan’s templates, then a regular form of my own for the bangle above.

It was quite straight-forward to create a template and move to a small irregular form, as pictured on the left.

Next was going up in scale.

Form made from a postal box
Base made – shown prior to baking
Veneer made using Madras technique layered onto baked base.
Colours based on kookaburras on our back deck. I was aiming for a neutral palette, but my hints of blues and orange (from wing and tail feathers), only 3 of 11 colours, took over visually.
The baked … let’s call it a tray form … is about 21 x 12.5 cm.
Edges still to be finished.

Dan’s course has some great information on finishing techniques, but at the moment such refinement isn’t a priority for me. What I’ve shown above provides enough enticing leads for the moment.

Neutrals

Cathie in the creative group circled an area towards the top left of the photo of the Madras tray – particularly liking one of the few surviving neutral areas. I took it as a challenge (of the positive, growth-producing kind). Could I make something using only the four “Cathie’s neutrals”?

It just doesn’t make my heart sing.

Perhaps something in between. Three Cathie neutrals plus one colour zing.

Top – original “kookaburra” colours – 11 colours in total
Centre, bottom row – Cathie’s neutral. 1 dark, 2 medium, 1 light
Left, bottom row – blue replaces 1 medium neutral
Right, bottom row – orange replaces light neutral

In my eyes bottom right is the least appealing. The loss of the light neutral dulls the whole. The other two simplified schemes are fine, but the original dish is my personal favourite. There are quite a few process variables available to play with – I suspect Hélène’s madras technique will reappear quite frequently. And probably more neutrals…

Extruder, stamping

A start was made on a systematic review of shapes produced by the various extruder dies. Quite a few seem to be sized so they can be used together to build up patterns. The review has been paused for the moment. I’m still using Kato clay, made a bit more supple with the addition of liquid clay, but still too difficult to work with using the extruder especially during a very cool start to summer.

It was fun to use the baked clay as stamps, as a first step in thinking about pattern combinations. I plan to get back to this. The only extension so far was to take an impression in clay of the incised design on a large pot I have, then use the baked impression as a stamp.

Text and graphic marks

Next I used some of the 3D text from the Wildly Constant experiment (22-Mar-2021).

Impression of 3D text pressed into clay
Thin dark top layer pressed into clay with 3D text, then top shaved back.

I also bought SaffronAddict’s Jungle Flowers tutorial.

Very early results, still unbaked, using marks suggested by SaffronAddict plus some more 3D text impressions. A lot of promise here.

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